Latest News – June 19

How Will HB 17-1375 Affect Local Schools?

From political junkies to educators across Colorado, the passage of HB 17-1375 is being closely watched to see how one-more-carrot added to the school choice plate plays out around the family dinner table when it comes parents’ decision about their children’s education.

homecoming_2016_lake-county-school-district_leadville-today

The Lake County High School Class of 2018 shows off their Panther Pride at the 2016 Homecoming Parade in Leadville. This year they will rule the school! Photo: Leadville Today

So what does that mean for Lake County? A quick check with local and state school representatives indicates it should not have any impact, at least in the short term. For those unfamiliar with the new legislation passed during the recent 2017 Colorado Legislative Session, the new law will directly affect rural schools because it specifies that Charter Schools will now share in the per pupil revenue generated from local mill levies.

But wait, isn’t Greater Heights a charter school? Good question!

New Greater Heights Academy Director Marvin Sandoval explained it this way, “We have a Co-OP with Hope Online Learning Academy, which is chartered under Douglas County School District (near Denver). Our funding is a per student rate that is received from HOPE.”  For readers who may not know Greater Heights Academy will be K-8th grades for the 2017/18 school year and will be located at 1600 Harrison, which is in the Mt. Crest Baptist Church building. 

Lake County School Superintendent Wendy Wyman interpreted the impact of HB 17-1375 in the same manner, adding information about efforts underway in the Leadville schools surrounding student retention:

Wendy Wyman

Superintendent: Dr Wendy Wyman

Currently HB 17-1375 doesn’t affect Lake County School District since the only charter/online school in Lake County is chartered through Douglas County Schools. 

We are incredibly proud of the work we are doing in our schools and we are working to get the word out.  We respect parent choice.  We also want to be sure that as local families consider schools they are aware of the high-quality teaching and learning that occurs daily in our classrooms. This spring, we held two open houses for parents to consider or reconsider our schools. This invitation was extended to all families who live in Lake County and have enrolled their students in other districts, including Greater Heights families.  Over the past five years we have made significant improvements across our system.  The climate in our buildings is welcoming and focused on learning.  We have made much progress in our efforts to support teachers and instruction.  Our infrastructure has consistently improved, for example our 7th through 12th grade students participate in a one-to-one Chromebook laptop model at our beautifully renovated high school campus.  Additionally we continue to support education of the whole child ensuring that our students have access to the performing and visual arts, technology, physical activity and sports, healthy meals and health care.  We invite the community to come in and see our great work when school starts again in August.  If a parent or community member is interested in a tour or learning more about our schools, we welcome them to contact our superintendent Wendy Wyman at wwyman@lakecountyschools.net or 719-486-6810.

And finally at the state level, Lake County’s Representative Joyce Rankin weighs in on HB17-1375 in addition to SB17-267 and the new legislation’s impact to rural schools.

Education Legislation and Summer Vacation

By Joyce Rankin, Lake County’s Rep. on the State Board of Education

Last month I reported on the education bills that were considered during the 2017 legislative session.  Senate Bill (SB) 267 and House Bill (HB) 1375 are two new acts that have significant impact on the rural schools that I represent.  SB 17-267 is called Sustainability of Rural Colorado.

Joyce Formal sport coat

State Board Representative Joyce Rankin

Among other things, this bill sets aside $30M to be used for rural and small rural school districts. HB 17-1375 specifies that Charter Schools will share in the per pupil revenue generated from local mill levies.

After bills are signed into law the state board is tasked with approving rules that determine how the laws are applied.  At this month’s board meeting we will issue final determinations of the Turnaround/Priority Improvement process, based on a law passed in 2009. The Board will determine whether the plans the districts and schools previously presented implement the change necessary for the students to improve in math, reading and language arts. We may need to ask the legislature for additional direction and authority to help low performing schools.

Another new act, HB 17-1340, creates a legislative interim committee to study school finance issues. The bill specifies issues that the committee must study and tasks this committee to make recommendations for legislation to meet the funding needs of students.  Since school finance is always on the minds of district administrators and local school boards, this will be an important committee to watch.

Summer vacation is upon us and we’ve been able to take a little time off for recreational activities.  Right after the legislative session ended we decided to experience the E-Bike and joined a group for a “test drive”.  Unfortunately my E-Bike ride didn’t go well. After a fall, two hours of surgery and thirty stitches later I decided it wasn’t for me. Stitches are out, I’m on the mend, and look forward to visiting on the Western Slope this summer.

Be safe out there, and thank you for the honor to serve.

OldSchoolhouse

The Old Malta Schoolhouse’s red color paints a stark contrast against October’s bright blue skies in Leadville, much like school choices for Lake County families

 

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